Rare non-binary bird makes itself known—but 'they' are not splitting the bill. (Page 1/1)
rinselberg MAR 08, 12:10 PM
What? No Ornithology check box for this topic?

The green honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza) exhibits sexual dimorphism. Female green honeycreepers are green. Male green honeycreepers are blue.

Tipped off by a local farmer in Columbia just over a year ago, Hamish Spencer, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, was "introduced" to one of these small songbirds who had become a "regular" at a bird-feeding station. It looked like half of a male bird and half of a female bird, glued together along the bilateral line of symmetry. Its right side was covered in blue feathers. Its left side was green.

Spencer became one of the authors of a report in the Journal of Field Ornithology, which describes the specimen on the basis of observations, photographs and video recordings, as a bilateral gynandromoph... or, as I just said, like half of a male bird and half of a female bird, glued together along the bilateral line of symmetry.

It's the second such green honeycreeper that's been documented. The other one was female on the right and male on the left, so the other way around. That's important (to scientists) because it confirms a hypothesis about how the phenomenon comes about.

Since the best report is from the New York Times, I am GIFTING the forum (yet again!) with a link that provides free access to the article for the next 30 days.

There is a brief video clip of the bird, in GIF format, and this is why I say "they are not splitting the bill." Because:

Bill color is also sexually dimorphic: males have a bright yellow mandible and lower maxilla, with a black culmen; females have a dull yellow mandible and a black maxilla.

"Extremely Rare ‘Half Female, Half Male’ Honeycreeper Snapped in Colombia"
Natali Anderson for SciNews; December 12, 2023.

When I view the brief video animation (GIF) in the New York Times article, I can't see any difference in the bird's beak or bill, between left and right. It looks like just an ordinary green honeycreeper's bill to me. But maybe I'm not seeing it accurately. It looks (to me) like it's just all male or all female, in so far as it's bill, but I'm not sure which matches that description in SciNews.

So here's the gift link for the article in the New York Times, for those who just can't pack enough bilateral gynandromophism into their day.

"This Bird Is Half Male, Half Female, and Completely Stunning"
Emily Anthes for the New York Times; March 7, 2024.

[This message has been edited by rinselberg (edited 03-08-2024).]

BingB MAR 10, 11:18 AM
My nickname in high school was "Honeycreeper"
rinselberg MAR 11, 05:21 AM

Originally posted by BingB:
My nickname in high school was "Honeycreeper"